I shouldn’t have suggested another buffet (my third in six days) for a catch-up supper with Bettina, but a monthly event put on by the Vegetarians of Alberta at Padmanadi (10626 97 Street) was too irresistible to walk away from. Buffets in general are a great way to economically sample a multitude of dishes, but in particular, this “niche” cuisine of vegan food (in addition to no meats, no dairy or animal byproducts such as honey or gelatin can be used).
Padmanadi has quite the cult following in Edmonton and is very well-known for their vegetarian cuisine. The t-shirts for sale at the front of the restaurant, with the words “we (heart) padmanadi” were proof enough to me that their popularity had reached a critical mass.
“we (heart) padmanadi”
The restaurant was packed, but table turnover was fast – I’m sure the sauna-like conditions had something to do with the dine-and-depart mentality. The servers had big smiles plastered on their faces, and it was clear they were enjoying the work – their cheerful demeanours demonstrated what restaurant service strives to be – carefree but efficient.
We grabbed large plates off the communal table, loaded up with some rice, and proceeded to taste each of the eight vegan dishes. Bettina was disappointed with the small variety, but given that this was a fundraiser for the non-profit Vegetarians of Alberta, I didn’t mind. Beyond recognizable spring rolls, green beans, and stir-fried deep-fried tofu, I struggled with the tofu stand-in dishes of sweet and sour “pork”, deep fried “chicken” balls, “chicken” curry and stir-fried “beef” and vegetables.
The vegan line-up
Bettina really liked the rich, coconut-milk infused curry, and both of us agreed the spring rolls were great. While we were stuffed at the end of our meal (two or three plates later), I couldn’t help but think the tofu, though disguised in sweet sauce, a battered shell, or adopting a similar consistency to beef, was still tofu. It was an interesting experience, but I’m much too used to the variety of meat to limit my consumption to tofu and vegetables.
Padmanadi Vegetarian Restaurant
10626 97 Street NW
Tuesday to Sunday 4-10pm